Shocks in the outflow of the RS Oph 2021 eruption observed with X-ray gratings

Marina Orio, Ehud Behar, Juan Luna, Jeremy Drake, Jay Gallagher, Joy S. Nichols, Jan-Uwe Ness, Andrej Dobrotka, Joanna Mikolajewska, Massimo Della Valle, Rico Ignace, Roy Rahin

Submitted on 5 September 2022


The 2021 outburst of the symbiotic recurrent nova RS Oph was observed with the Chandra High Energy Transmission Gratings (HETG) on day 18 after optical maximum and with XMM-Newton and its Reflection Grating Spectrographs (RGS) on day 21, before the supersoft X-ray source emerged and when the emission was due to shocked ejecta. The absorbed flux in the HETG 1.3-31 Angstrom range was 2.6 x 10(-10) erg/cm(-2)/s, three orders of magnitude lower than the gamma-ray flux measured on the same date. The spectra are well fitted with two components of thermal plasma in collisional ionization equilibrium, one at a temperature ~0.75 keV, and the other at temperature in the 2.5-3.4 keV range. With the RGS we measured an average flux 1.53 x 10(-10) erg/cm(-2)/s in the 5-35 Angstrom range, but the flux in the continuum and especially in the lines in the 23-35 Angstrom range decreased during the 50 ks RGS exposure by almost 10%, indicating short term variability on hours' time scale. The RGS spectrum can be fitted with three thermal components, respectively at plasma temperature between 70 and 150 eV, 0.64 keV and 2.4 keV. The post-maximum epochs of the exposures fall between those of two grating spectra observed in the 2006 eruption on days 14 and 26: they are consistent with a similar spectral evolution, but in 2021 cooling seems to have been more rapid. Iron is depleted in the ejecta with respect to solar values, while nitrogen is enhanced.


Comment: In press in the Astrophysical Journal

Subjects: Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena; Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics